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Victoria and My Vegan Guides

Posted by at 6:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)


After 20-plus years as a vegetarian, the choice defines me. Eating with awareness is so instinctive that I often forget there was a time when I did not eat consciously. I am almost humiliated to recall the past—a time when I simply didn’t “get it.” Thankfully, I crossed paths with guides who showed me the way—enlightened ones who taught the truth through their actions, their words, or simply their beings.

The first was a coworker. I was attending a company-sponsored lunch, and as I was filling my plate with the typical meat choices, I noticed a young woman with a plate filled simply with vegetables. She seemed to be garnering a lot of unwarranted attention. When I glanced quizzically at the person next to me, the person replied, “She’s a vegetarian.” To which I thoughtlessly remarked, “That’s strange. Animals are here to be eaten.” I had never met a vegetarian and wasn’t even sure what one was, but I knew that this woman was obviously uninformed.

A few years passed, and I took an interest in environmental issues. During a trip to the library to research alternative housing and energy conservation, I stumbled upon a book titled Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. I picked up the book and thought “Really? Food choices affect the environment?” With a little basic math, Frances easily proved that growing food to feed animals so that we could then eat the animals was illogical. Armed with this new knowledge and the memory of that vegetarian coworker, giving up meat was an easy decision for me.

For a couple of years, I was quite content with my meat-free, although dairy-filled, diet. I felt great and, honestly, a bit smug. After all, I was making sacrifices for the environment. Then another lesson came my way. A vegetarian friend shared an article by John Robbins about the link between veal and the dairy industry. It never dawned on me that the milk I was consuming really belonged to a baby cow. I was devastated to learn that during all my self-righteous vegetarian years, I was actually supporting the veal industry. So, no more milk, cream cheese, or yogurt for me. But as hard as I tried, I could not give up ice cream. (For reference, this was years before Soy Delicious and Purely Decadent came on the market!)

Then I met Victoria, my bovine mentor. She had been thrown on the side of a farm’s road and was expected to die before the rendering truck came. Fortunately, a kind soul swept her up and took her to an animal sanctuary. She required care, 24/7, and I agreed to help. She needed encouragement to eat, and she needed oxygen. She quickly captured my heart with her beautiful eyes and gentle spirit. She was struggling, but she had a strong desire to live. To the dairy industry, she was simply a commodity not worth the time to save. To me, she quickly became a friend.

Within a few weeks, she was standing and soon joined the other fortunate cows at the sanctuary. She behaved just like a really large dog. She knew her name and loved to be scratched under her chin. She recognized my car when I visited the sanctuary and would trot over to me for hugs and attention.

I easily gave up ice cream after that first night with Victoria. I vowed never to support the dairy industry. To this day, I don’t understand why it took so long for me to understand the pain and destruction caused by my diet. Thankfully, I encountered teachers along the way to lead me to the obvious conclusion—that being vegan is the only moral, environmental, and compassionate choice.

Occasionally, I get discouraged when family, friends, and coworkers just don’t “get it.” Then I consider my own journey and hope my words or actions may influence others to do the right thing—if not immediately, then hopefully down the road.

 

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    Mandi says...

    July 28th, 2011, 8:41 pm

    I have been very lucky in growing up with vegan parents, but we have had times when doctor’s and others have unfortunately convinced us that we weren’t getting the right nutrients or protein. We went from vegan to vegetarian to “vegetarians” who ate meat every couple weeks to get the protein they “needed”. That was a very tough time for me because for one, I wasn’t used to the taste and thought it was gross, and secondly, I couldn’t take the fact that an animal was killed for that. Eventually we realized that we were getting plenty of nutrition with a vegan diet and are once again happily vegan. I learned that animals aren’t just killed to be eaten, they are tortured. I started a blog to help teens my age, and any others, realize this and to help vegans with the “doubtfulls”. Thank you for this post, it was inspiring :)

    Cynthia says...

    July 29th, 2011, 6:45 pm

    Your story resonates with me. I had a similar path, but with different experiences. I finally “got it” after seeing the photos and videos the meat and dairy industries don’t want people to see. I wish more people would open their eyes.

    Fineartmarcella says...

    July 29th, 2011, 6:49 pm

    I loved the opening statement: ‘After 20-plus years as a vegetarian, the choice defines me. ‘, because that is me!! A meal in the presence of others always becomes a topic of many smart and uninformed responses. Then when you try to tell them or show them by way of YouTube the horrors of Factory Farms and destruction of the environment I get ‘ oh please, I can’t watch those, I’ve seen them before’ as they put another bite of dead animal in their mouths.
    I just keep demonstrating the lifestyle and trying, my mother who was raised on a farm was sure I was going to die!!
    Thanks for the inspirations

    Danielle Cartisser says...

    July 30th, 2011, 5:34 am

    I am struggling with eating meat. Ive heard&seen my share of disturbing things we do to these poor innocent&undeserving animals but living in a home&not to mention society that ignores these horrible practices for the sake of “good food” is so warped but I kinda understand why it can be so difficult to change. I am an on again off again vegetarian, I have slipped back into it after being stuck in a hospital for a yr.&”needing the protein to heal”etc. but now im home&am having such a hard time finding foods to eat. Fast food is bad even without meat-actually all processed foods are bad for our health so ive been trying to minimize it as much as possible but I often find myself feeling guilty after giving in&once again not being able to find sumthin readily available I can esat that constitutes as an actual meal not just a snack&also appetizing! I also find it very hard to find nonmeat or animal ingredient including foods,&i am suffering insideas silly as it would soud to alotta people! Because I know the cruelty,pain&life of an individual has dued for every meal&different meat item usually, that is consumed in a meal, I ferl so guilty&sad&i think way too in depth about the details which I dont want to contribute&certain foods because of the obviousness of what it is(like chicken on the bone!)i get grossed out so much I usually CAN avoid any would be temptation there.. I wish there was a “Vegan or Vegetarians for Dummies” so I could learn like you guys how to eat smart automaticaly knowing what to avoid&

    Ellie says...

    July 30th, 2011, 11:45 am

    I am becoming a vegetarian hoping to go vegan. It’s really hard to substitute certain foods and it’s also more expensive. But it’s my goal and I’m trying to encourage others to do the same. Once saw what was being done to the animals my conscience would’t allow me to eat meat.

    Patty Bowers says...

    July 30th, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Hi Danielle (above),
    Check out PETA’s books about vegetarianism and cooking, they are great. Also, most bk. stores have lots of bks. about vegetarianism and cooking for vegetarians, cookbooks, etc. Once you start you will find it easy! And there are SO MANY good substitutes for Milk (ALMOND DREAm is rich and delicious), cheese, meat, etc. Be sure to look in your freezer depts. in the grocery store, there are good fake chickn
    “cutlets”, etc. Your tastes will adjust quickly and favorably. I haven’t had ice cream in over 30+ yrs. and once I tried a bite & it tasted SLIMY and yucky to me. Try Good Karma Rice Divine ice “cream”, soy ice creams, and Almond Dream ice “cream”. Once u start looking around u will find many things to cook and eat, it’s WAY better than it was 40 yrs. ago!!!! Have fun!

    Patty Bowers says...

    July 31st, 2011, 1:36 pm

    To Ellie (Above),
    Yes, at 1st it seems like it may be more expensive to eat vegetarian but in the LONG run it isn’t because you will most likely be totally avoiding diseases that meat & dairy eaters get- heart disease, cancers, and many others…. so you pay up front, but it’s way cheaper than paying the doctors, hospitals and high insur. rates LATER because you are sick! Ugh, I want to avoid those debilitating and long suffering diseases!
    I’d rather pay now and STAY healthy than pay ALOT MORE later and be sick! Cheers!

    Susie says...

    August 1st, 2011, 8:15 am

    I’m a vegetarian leaning toward vegan. My kitchen is vegan, but I do consume dairy when I go out – especially milk in my tea (at home I use almond milk.) Can someone explain what the above story means where it says the milk really “belonged to a baby cow.”?

    Nancy says...

    August 1st, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Hi Susie –

    Mother’s milk, from any species, is for babies. When milk is taken from a mother cow and made into dairy products for human consumption, a baby cow is not getting it. This is the premise for the veal industry. Check out –
    http://www.peta.org/issues/Animals-Used-for-Food/veal-a-byproduct-of-the-cruel-dairy-industry.aspx

    This is purely from a perspective of compassion. One could easily question why humans are drinking milk from another species and look at the health impact.

    Hope this helps.

    Susie says...

    August 2nd, 2011, 12:11 am

    Thanks, Nancy. Its similar to what is said about the chicken and egg/chick relationship. There’s a bond. It’s learning these things that will make my transition to veganism more definite.

    … I just wish places like Star Bucks would offer almond or rice milk. I’m a big tea drinker and I like it with “milk” and I’m not consuming soy as much.

    Y.D. Jordan says...

    August 2nd, 2011, 5:07 pm

    ever tried purely decadent and soy delicious ice cream??!
    Match meat is a producer of fake meats incl. crab cakes, so unbelievably delicious. They’re all luscious

    Tami says...

    August 17th, 2011, 9:32 am

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! When I read more awesome stories like Victoria it makes me feel so good about being a vegan. I used to be on the other side wondering why people did not eat meat. Glad I came over ;-) I have never felt better and wished I started years ago. Thank you – Thank you

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